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phrases, which are not, indeed, confined to this author, but equally disfigure the works of others; and are, unhappily, to be found in the volumes of writers the most applauded for correctness and elegance of diction: the frequency of these impurities, and the eminence of the names from which they seem to derive countenance, so far from furnishing any argument in their defence, present the strongest reason for their condemnation, since vicious modes and practices should, always, be resisted with a zeal proportioned to the danger arising from the prevalence of custom, and the seduction of example: and though much of what is here complained of cannot now be reformed, it should, at least, be stigmatised, to prevent what is indisputably wrong

from being sanctioned by authority, or multiplied by adoption ; but the most pernicious, as well as copious source of disorder in these works, is what has poured into almost every page of them, a torrent of interpolation ; which, bearing on its surface the foam of antiquity, has been so mixed and blended with the rest, as to be at this day, not to the careless reader only, but to the most discerning critics, not very clearly distinguishable; and he who with the efficacy of just discrimination, and, in the confidence allied to great ability, should declare, “ Thus far our poet wrote, the rest is all imposture," would claim and deserve a place “ Velut inter ignes luna minores, supereminent, indeed, above all his competitors, in the honour of illustrating Shakspeare: this, however, were a project to the execution of which the present remarker professes himself incompetent : he will, therefore, confine his endeavours to that field of scrutiny which has bounded the ambition of men, much better qualified than he is, to extend its limits, assuming only as a datum, what no one will deny, that interpolation does exist, and is frequent ; and resting thereon, conjointly with the excellence of the poetry, which, indisputably is our author's, an argument that very few of the ungrammatical, unmetrical, or unmeaning sentences, exhibited in these works, have issued from his pen. As to prosody, or the unskilfulness in that art, so commonly imputed to our author, no charge was ever more

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unsubstantial; for, to say nothing of Venus and Adonis, the Rape of Lucrece, and the Sonnets, all which are finished with a kind of fastidious exactness: there are numberless verses and scenes in the plays, which prove he had an ear as correctly tuned as that of Pope, but far surpassing him in true and various melody: and equal, if not superior, even to Milton himself. Whenever, therefore, we find a passage of general excellence and beauty, disfigured by an uncouth line, or a line itself decrepid or unweildy, we may reasonably conclude it is the effect of either unfaithful recitation, or hasty transcription; thus, when the king accosts young

Hamlet :

66 'Tis sweet and commendable in your na

ture, Hamlet, “ To give these mourning duties to your

father. “ But you must know, your father lost a

father, “ That father lost, lost his, and the survivor

bound,” &c.

It is plain that the hypermeter in the

first and fourth lines has been impertinently or carelessly obtruded, and that the verse ran thus :(6)

“ 'Tis sweet and commendable in you,

Hamlet, “ To give these mourning duties to your

father. “ But you must know, your father lost a

father, “ That father his, and the survivor bound,"

&c.

The last of these lines, indeed, Pope very properly corrected. But let us proceed, and see if we can rationally associate such crudities with the mellow harmony of what follows:

66 And the survivor bound “ In filial obligation, for some term, “ To do obsequious sorrow, but to pér

sěvěr “ In obstinate condolement, is a course “ Of impious stubbornness ; 'tis unmanly

grief, “ It shows a will most incorrect to heaven

“ A heart unfortified, or mind impatient; “ An understanding simple and.unschoold: “ For, what we know must be, and is as

common “ As any, the most vulgar, thing to senseWhy should we, in our peevish opposi

tion, 66 Take it to heart? Fie! 'tis. a fault to

heaven : “ A fault against the dead; a fault to na

ture: “ To reason most absurd; whose common

theme “ Is death of fathers; and who still has

cried 66 From the first corse, till- -he that

died, to-day 66 This must be so

It

may be observed, in these verses, that the dissyllabic termination occurs pretty often ; and once the trisyllabic. This occasional redundance is, certainly, as Dennis remarked, an improvement in our dramatic metre; though that critic is mistaken in ascribing to Shakspeare, either the invention of it, or the frequent introduction

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